Friday, June 15, 2012

Making my Head Hurt

I investigate complex auto insurance claims, as you may know.  What I think is complex and what someone else thinks is complex are often two different things, though.  I ran smack into that talking to a cab driver earlier this week.

So, my insured loses control of his vehicle, hits a parked car on the left side of the road, then swerves right and hits a cab stopped in front of a residence after having just dropped off a fare.  My insured says the cab made a U turn into the side of his vehicle as he was passing, pushing him into the parked car.  The cab driver says he had no reason to make the U turn because he was going straight down the road once he was done with the fare, as he does regularly in dropping off this fare.  Giving my insured less credibility, he fled the scene, but claims he walked back after parking his damage car a few blocks away.  He didn't talk to the police because he's not on the police report.

But here's the part that left me going in circles with the cab driver.  My insured had no driver's license.  The cab driver concludes that because my insured was driving illegally without a license, my insured must be at fault for the accident.  If he had been obeying the law and not driving, the accident would not have happened.

The thing is, that's not logical.  The possession of a license is irrelevant to whether a person is driving a car negligently.  Not having a license is a criminal or traffic violation that is separate from a tort determination of who was negligent.  They're different, albeit overlapping, areas of law.

I tried to explain to the cab driver and brought up the example of drunk driving.  I've had a few claims over the years where a person was driving drunk but was not at fault in the loss.  The person was going straight and someone turned in front of them or something along those lines.  He just would not get it.  He was hung up on the illegal operation of the vehicle, either drunk or without a license.  I tried to paint it for him by saying if a licensed or sober driver was substituted for the illegal driver, the same result would have occurred, and that person wouldn't be at fault.

It all ended up moot because I found the cab driver far more credible than my insured who fled the scene, so he was perfectly fine with my finding the insured at fault.

To some degree it reminded me of the illegal immigration discussions.  Far too many people think that illegal immigrants get whatever they deserve when they're here illegally, as long as what happens to them is negative.  If the illegal is successful, or even just getting by, the illegal should be sent "home" because the person is here illegally.  Nevermind the contributions that person is making to the society.  Immigration status is all that matters.

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